I had planned to make several points, among which were these:
- Absolutely no one is receiving consistently reliable, demonstrably authentic messages from God todayincluding the best-known and most outspoken people who regularly make the claim that "God told me" this or that.
- There is really no substantive difference (other than scale) between the spectacularly failed prophecies of questionable televangelists like Oral Roberts and Benny Hinn, and the misguided presumption of the non-charismatic Southern Baptist who thinks God routinely communicates to him via specific messages about virtually every daily decision in life, and who thinks he is obliged to order his life according to those impulses.
- That sort of presumption has been the cause of constant embarrassment, error, and unsanctified behavior throughout the annals of church history. George Whitefield was susceptible to it, and Jonathan Edwards admonished him about it. Cotton Mather had a series of disastrous disappointments that were all rooted in the notion that God was giving him private guarantees that his prayers would be answered.
- Private "revelation" invariably tends to usurp the authority and the proper role of Scripture, even when it turns out to be demonstrably false.
- Nothing in Scripture ever commands us to seek such revelation, especially on a routine basis. On the other hand, we are constantly exhorted to seek guidance daily from the Scriptures; to devote ourselves to rightly dividing the inscripturated Word; and to make biblical wisdom and discernment the main source of guidance in all our decision-making.
- Thinking you can discern the will of God by your own feelings is not only perilous; it is positively, carnally sinful.
I'm still willing to discuss those points, most of which transcend the normal differences between charismatics and cessationists. Note that none of these points necessarily presupposes cessationism.
But it seems we must talk about cessationism first, or else the noise level in the comments threads will drown out the real point anyway. When I began to post on this subject a few weeks ago, my comment-threads were spammed with demands that we either drop the subject altogether, or else deal with the cessationism issue first. I tried several times to pursue the subject without getting into a fight over cessationism, but the critics stuck their fingers in their ears and kept trying to pick that fight.
So cessationism it is. And we'll start that subject either tomorrow or the next day.
But fair warning: Someday, I do want to get back to the real issue I started trying to talk about. There are a lot of people out there who have been influenced by Gothard, Blackaby, and other non-charismatic subjectivists who teach people to think that God routinely guides them by their feelings, so much that if they don't think they are hearing private messages from God all the time, they are not really "experiencing" God.
And I eventually want to make the point I set out to make in the first place: That ordering your life by your feelings is the polar opposite of the biblical concept of discernment.
Anyway, I leave you today with an extra quotation from Spurgeon on the subject. He said:
We often meet with a fanciful religion in which people trust to impulses, to dreams, to noises, and mystic things which they imagine they have seen. Fiddle-faddle all of it, and yet they are quite wrapt up in it.
I pray that you may cast out this chaffy stuff, there is no food for the spirit in it. The life of my soul lies not in what I think, or what I fancy, or what I imagine, or what I enjoy of fine feeling, but only in that which faith apprehends to be the Word of God.
From "A Luther Sermon at the Tabernacle," delivered (on Martin Luther's 400th birthday) Sunday Morning, November 11, 1883.
By the way, this is post number 200 in the PyroManiac archive. That's a lot of words since the bloglaunch on June 1. Thanks to all who have given me encouragement and good advice.
Thanks also to my beloved friend, Frank Turk, who awarded me one of his coveted wooden nickles yesterday. A wooden nickle from the legendary Centuri0n is high praise indeed. Thank you.